Bardwell, W(illia)m

Healthy homes and how to make them.

London, “published for S.A.Gilbert, by Dean and Son, 35, Threadneedle Street” nd (1854).

Reference: 15293
Price: £240 [convert currency]

Full Description

8vo. 71 + (1) + xv + (1)pp, 6 litho plates (numbered 1-IV, with 2 unnumbered, plate II bound as frontispiece). A piece of the blank upper margin of pp 31-2 torn away, without loss of text. Publisher’s gilt-and blind-stamped cloth, worn at head and foot of spine. Late nineteenth century bookplate of the Manchester Society of Architects, to whom the copy was given in 1892 by Henry Goldsmith, a Manchester architect, himself the author of a book on Economic Homes.

A scarce and well-written book by the long-lived London-based architect William Bardwell (1795-1890), who, unusually for a British architect of his generation, had spent two years in Paris as a young man working for the architect François Debret, and who had designed model cottages for agricultural labourers on a site at Shooters Hill, Kent, as far back as the late 1820s under the auspices of the Labourer’s Friend Society. He argues for improved sanitation, for the clearance of urban slums, and for more public open spaces in London and its suburbs, and offers a design and detailed specifications for a pair of model dwelling houses, illustrated on the volume’s accompanying plates. The book is dedicated to Lord Palmerston, Home Secretary at the time of its publication, of whom Bardwell says “there is not a more intelligent and energetic sanitary reformer existing”, and the utility of Lord Palmerston’s name in marketing the book is displayed by the fact that the fact that the lettering on the book’s upper cover mentions the fact that the book is “dedicated, by permission, to the Right Hon.Lord Palmerston”. A feature of the book which seems not to have attracted attention is that S.A.Gilbert, the individual for whom the volume was published, was a “benevolent lady” (see p.53, and accompanying footnote), “at whose desire this little work is produced” (p.8). This is thus very probably the only book of the mid-nineteenth century on the provision of better housing for the working classes of which the publication was financed by a female philanthropist.

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